The candidates of the 1st district stay the course on the forum | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Congressional District first challenger Jeff Ettinger, D-Austin, left, speaks and U.S. Representative Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, listens to a candidates’ forum at South Central College in North Mankato Thursday.

NORTH MANKATO — U.S. Representative Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, and challenger Jeff Ettinger, D-Austin, calmly participated in a 1st Congressional District candidates’ forum Thursday at South Central College.

Ettinger, an attorney, said he grew up in Pasadena, Calif., and his wife grew up in Faribault. They met in Southern California before being offered a job in the legal department of Hormel Foods in 1990, and they moved to Austin.

Ettinger worked in the legal, marketing and treasury department of Hormel Foods before taking over the operation of Jenny O for four years in the Willmar area. The Ettingers moved back to Austin in 2005 and he served as CEO of Hormel Foods for 11 years before retiring in 2016.

Ettinger is president of the Hormel Foundation, a charitable organization that benefits Mower County, providing access to child care, working on waterways with local farmers, and school projects, including a new science lab and music center .

“For me, America has always been the country of equal opportunity for all,” said Ettinger. “We just have to keep working on the game for all. Not everyone starts at the same place in life.

“I present myself as a moderate candidate with dominant opinions” said Ettinger. “I believe that government can play a positive role in improving our society, but I recognize that we cannot and should not tackle everything at once. I believe spending should be focused on those who really need it.

Ettinger said he thinks we should protect individual rights that seem to be under attack these days.

“I think we shouldn’t make women or their doctors criminals for their private health care decisions,” he added. “We must protect people’s rights to vote and have those votes count and not overrule bogus voters or refusals to certify an election.”

Ettinger said he was not running as a politician but as a proven leader on a community and business basis.

Finstad won a special election in August to serve the remaining 18 weeks of the late 1st District Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s term after he died of cancer in February. Finstad edged out Ettinger by a vote of 59,788 to 55,155.

Born and raised in Godahl and a fourth-generation farmer and agricultural consultant, Finstad said he and his wife have dedicated their lives to service.

“My Norwegian grandfather taught me two very important lessons when I was very young,” said Finstad. “First, he told me the world is run by people showing up. Second, leave everything you do better than you found it.

Finstad he and his wife have served on the boards of the church, school, hospital and bank. At age 25, Finstad was elected to the Minnesota House, serving three terms and stepping down from the state legislature.

He was appointed USDA Director of Rural Development in 2017. Finstad has held leadership positions with the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and the Center for Rural Policy and Development.

“I deeply believe that the seat of Congress belongs to you. It does not belong to me or to a party. said Finstad.

“When I decided to get back into politics, I looked at my seven children and said, ‘Are we doing our best to give them the opportunity to live in the most beautiful country in the world?'” he said. “I looked at our politics, our politics and our government and thought, ‘This is not what I want for my children. We can do better.

Finstad expressed concern about “Family portfolio issues.”

“There was a lack of direction. I hear it day after day. It’s the price of gas, food, the supply chain, inflation and labor shortages,” he said.

Finstad said he thinks most Americans “support a wall with a door. That it shouldn’t take immigrants nine years to get their case through the courts, and that it’s wrong to give people work visas while the rest of the family waits at home.

“The best form of government is our local form of government. Things happen in our townships, counties and cities. The idea that we need more government is something I do not accept.

Ettinger said most of the seniors he talks about appreciate a Social Security program that isn’t county-based and that Medicare is available nationwide.

“Voters are concerned about health care, housing and child care,” he added. “I don’t think the answer is sorry, none of this is the role the federal government should consider getting involved in.”

(Fritz Busch can be emailed to [email protected])

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